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Buying Your First House in Florida: What to Consider When Making the First Real Estate Investment of Your Life

Buying your first house marks a momentous occasion. For many people, it is the most substantial purchase they’ve made thus far. For others, buying a first house can signify the culmination of years of planning, worrying, and hoping. But when you’re finally ready to take the plunge, what are some ways of approaching the purchase of your first home?

Important Steps to Take:

Get Pre-qualified: Learn how much “house” you can afford by meeting with a mortgage broker. They will guide you through the initial steps of securing a mortgage. Sellers are often more open towards buyers who are “pre-approved” as it denotes readiness and seriousness on your part. When you are “pre-approved” for a mortgage, it means that you have already applied for a mortgage and have a letter from your lender that ensures the amount for which you’ve been approved. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help prevent heartbreak because it provides you with a concrete price range that reflects what you can actually afford. In addition, the costs of pre-approval are often taken care of when you close on your loan and are usually nominal.

Create a List of Needs and Wants: Create two lists, one that respects your needs, and a second list that reflects “wants.” First-time homebuyers are often taken aback by the reality of what they can afford and what is available at any given time on the market. It is important to consider what are “deal-breakers” (i.e. one bathroom featured when you need three for a larger family) and what you can change later on. Everyone’s list of “needs” vary widely, just make sure to be honest with yourself about your needs so that the property that you end up purchasing is indeed what you have been looking for. This can help to avoid future disappointment.

Create a second list of “wishes.” Considering that most properties may not feature all of your prerequisites, it is important to remain realistic about what may actually be available on the market at the time you are ready to purchase. Wishes reflect things you’d like to have, but can realistically live without – at least until you can better afford to address them (i.e. pool, gourmet kitchen, only high-end finishes).

Location: Considering your needs, where would you like to buy a house? Do you have children and are concerned about the school district? Are you newly married and would like to start a family one day? Would you like to be closer to work? Or do you not mind a long commute if it fulfills more of your wish-list? When buying your first home, consider
the perspective of other future buyers. Would a perspective buyer find the location of your target home attractive based the local crime rate and school district rankings, for instance? Consider the positive (parks, nearby shopping) and negative aspects (garbage dump, street noise, etc.) that would effect another buyer’s decision in buying.

When to hire a real estate agent? Consider hiring a real estate agent who works for you, the buyer, and not the seller. Agents can advise you on location, taxes, HOAs, and other important considerations. They only get paid if you decide to purchase a property.

Stay organized and objective:

  • Create a file of maps with the areas in which you are interested highlighted.
  • Take notes on each property you see (or video/pictures) to refresh your memory
  • Remember it may take more than one visit to the same house before you make a final decision
  • Don’t choose a house based on your furniture! Sometimes buyers give up the property that fulfills their needs because their furniture doesn’t fit. There are many ways to reorganize a house and decorate to suit your budget while finding the right home
  • Know the real cost of cosmetic vs. major renovations: Hate the red kitchen? Paint can be a low cost fix. Hate the bathroom, but can live with it a while? Get free estimates from local contractors (that your realtor can often advise you on) to give you a better idea of any hidden costs you may have to budget for
  • Get a thorough inspection done on the home (your realtor will have several trusted individuals they can point you to)
  • Request another walk-through a day or two before the closing

Buying your first home, whether it’s a luxury new construction home in Sarasota or a start home in a modest area, can be overwhelming. It is a big financial and emotional purchase that can serve your family for years to come. Florida Elite Homes can ensure that you are making the most informed decision possible, as our agents will leverage their unparalleled knowledge of the Florida real estate market. Give our agents a call today or shoot us a message and let us help you find the right home at the right price!

About Leah

Leah has been a Florida resident for the past 24 years, a licensed real estate agent for over 16 years and a Sarasota resident for over twelve. She has raised her two daughters, Renata and Curstin, in Sarasota with her husband Christopher. Leah enjoys spending time with her husband, children and son-in law.My Google Profile+ View all posts by Leah →
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Janette K. Schafer
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